The answer, of course, is no. As I mentioned before, I saw Shrek the Musical with my kids last weekend and, although I thoroughly enjoyed it (much to my surprise), the big ham-handed ogre could not have effectively used the Acer Aspire One I'm evaluating.
No kidding, right? I was chatting tonight with fellow blogger, Jason Perlow, who brought this question to mind. He noted that his hands were simply too big to use his netbook. The big guy, in his words, feels "like Shrek trying to use a laptop." Although I seem to be rapidly getting more Shrek-like around my midsection, my hands are still pretty small, so I've adapted really well to typing on the netbook. The jury is still out on long-term heavy use; we'll see how the carpal tunnel hangs in there as I log more hours on the device. I happen to be typing this post on my MacBook as I'm installing a bunch of software on the Aspire One and I have to admit that the keyboard is pretty heavenly.
From the Ed Tech perspective, though, the real question is just how Shrek-like will the average student, or even the average teacher, feel on these little keyboards and touchpads? Are my hands completely out of the ordinary? Is Perlow just a dinosaur who can't adapt and probably hates BlackBerries, puppies, and your grandmother's apple pie? Or should these devices be confined to elementary classrooms?
I don't think any of the above are actually true. Adults use netbooks all the time and, for many of my teachers, if the choice came down to having a netbook or not having a computer provided by the school due to budget considerations, I think they'd learn to type on a mini-keyboard very quickly.
I do think that these computers are especially well-suited to primary students and I feel much more comfortable watching my 6-year old cart the Aspire One around than watching him lug around a MacBook. $400 or $1100? You make the call.
I'm to the point already with the Aspire One that I don't actually like being without it. I like being able to write whenever I want and I like being able to tuck it under my arm or in a big coat pocket. My three youngest kids (ages 6, 13, and 15) all happily use it for web surfing.
But does this extend to everyone? And will my poor, abused wrists ultimately rebel at the small keyboard?
What do you think?